When you look at the frame of edge rusher/outside linebacker Sutton Smith, the Steelers sixth-round pick out of Northern Illinois in the 2019 NFL Draft, you wonder if he’ll have the size to play with the big boys at the professional level.
- At first glance, Sutton Smith, at 6’1″ and 234 pounds, appears to be light years away from having the ideal size to play outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s defense.
But times are different in 2019. In Keith Butler‘s defense, Steelers outside linebackers are expected to be more athletic, more agile than they were in the past. In fact, Bud Dupree, who came into the league at around 270 in 2015, dropped 20 pounds by his second year. T.J. Watt, a budding star in the Steelers defense, is listed at 252 pounds.
- Both players are more lightning than they are thunder. They’re more quiver than they are quake.
What that means is, for a player like Sutton Smith, he may not have very far to go to get to where he needs to be in order to compete in the National Football League.
If the desire and intensity he displayed in college on his way to 30 quarterback sacks makes its way into the Steelers weight room, there’s no reason Sutton Smith can’t pack on 10 or 15 pounds of muscle. If he does that, he’ll be in the game, he’ll be in the running for a spot on the Steelers roster.
Just take a look at second-year outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi, who is the same height as Smith and listed at 248 pounds. There’s a bit of a buzz surrounding Ola Adeniyi as he enters his sophomore season in the NFL. Who’s to say there won’t be a similar buzz about Sutton Smith this time next season?
- Who’s to say there won’t be a buzz about Sutton Smith this summer?
Fact is, Sutton Smith has a chance to make it on the Steelers’ roster, even if it’s as an inside linebacker (his current weight would be just about ideal at that position). There’s always room on Pittsburgh’s defense for a guy with the ability to get after the quarterback. There’s always room on the Steelers roster for a player with the kind of intensity Sutton Smith displayed in college.
Sutton Smith may have limitations, but his size, well, that probably isn’t going to be one of them.